Coordinated Field Office

Atlanta, Georgia

3:10 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hey, everybody.  (Applause.)

Can we hear it for Helen Butler?  (Applause.) 

Well, it is good to be back in Atlanta.  You know, I was just here last week.  Somebody asked me if I was moving here.  I said, “Maybe.”  (Laughs.) 

But I want to thank everybody just so very much for all the work and all the leaders who are here.  I was saying to somebody, Helen Butler has been doing this work — I’ve been — I have been visiting with her and working with her here in Atlanta for years.  And I know there are so many extraordinary leaders here who understand the importance of this election and the power that we have to make a difference and to decide the trajectory, the focus of our country in terms of knowing what we are entitled to receive from our government and its leaders and the work that is necessary to achieve that end.

So, I want to thank everyone.  And I want to wish everybody a happy Juneteenth.  (Applause.) 

So, when I was in the United States Senate, I was very proud to be a sponsor of the legislation that made Juneteenth a federal holiday.  And when I think about what we know — and folks in Atlanta and so many parts of our country have traditions — longstanding traditions of how to celebrate Juneteenth and what it means. 

But, in particular, when we think about what’s at stake in our country right now in the context of those who would deny our history, who would have us erase history, who would try to rewrite our history in this year of our Lord, 2024 — those who are banning books — we know that as we celebrate this — the most recent, the newest federal holiday in America — that it is incumbent on all of us in our celebration to dedicate ourselves to knowing our history, to dedicating ourselves to what must not be repeated about our history, knowing we can never take any of the gains we have made for granted unless we are vigilant in protecting fundamental freedoms.

And that’s how I know we think about Juneteenth.  I have issued a call to action.  I have actually asked that on Juneteenth, in the many ways that we have traditionally celebrated it, now that it is a federal holiday, let’s also incorporate into our tradition our new traditions that we will think of Juneteenth of a day for us to have a call to action to register folks to vote.  (Applause.)

So, let that now — as we create traditions on top of those that have existed, think of Juneteenth as our call to action to register folks to vote.  Because, after all, what we know is so much about our history has been about those that would try and deny us our rights and how we must be proactive and exercise self-determination to make real our power and the promise of America.  And one of the most significant ways in election time that we do that is to vote. 

An election that is going to determine the next generation or many of our country is happening in 140 days — in 140 days.  And it is so important that remind people — that we remind people of their power at this very moment — their power of their voice through their vote. 

And so, that’s part of what we are doing with the kickoff of this campaign headquarters is, through this office right here, we will gather, we will organize, we will build community, we will build coalitions all around reminding people that we are all in this together and that there is power in the collective and in our unity.

What we will be doing here over the course of the next 140 days is organizing folks.  We’re going to be emailing.  We’re going to be texting.  We’re going to be calling.  We’re going to be knocking on doors.  (Applause.)  We’re going to be looking to our right and looking to our left and saying, “Neighbor, you know your vote is important.  You know you” —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s exactly right.  You have a right to have your voice heard at election time. 

And so, let’s make sure that we do a couple of things.  First of all, let’s remember recent history.  The state of Georgia and the voters of Georgia turned out in record numbers in 2020 — in record numbers.  Young voters turned out in record numbers in 2020, which is how Joe Biden became President of the United States and I became Vice President of the United States.  (Applause.)

The voters of Georgia turned out in record numbers and sent Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the United States Senate — (applause) — defying some people who dare to define who the state of Georgia is and what that looks like. 

Georgia voters made a decision that, in spite of intents and plans to make it more difficult for you to vote, you would find a way around those obstacles to not ever let anybody suppress your voice — (applause) — despite the fact that in the state of Georgia a law was passed to make it illegal to give people food and water for standing in line to vote.  The hypocrisy abounds.  Whatever happened to “love thy neighbor”?

And then, in May, the governor of Georgia signed three bills into law — one of them which is going to mean that certain people can make decisions about fewer voting machines in polling places.  You know why?  Well, my theory of it — which is a logical theory and a reasonable theory of it — is because then they can start taking machines from certain polling places to make people have to stand in line longer to dissuade people from being able to have their voice count at election time.

Because what we know is the folks who have everything at stake are often the folks who have a whole lot of obligations in their life.  They have kids that they got to take care of.  They have jobs they have to work at.  They’re caring for other people.  And so, to make it more difficult for them to vote by saying that you’re going to have to stand in line longer, that’s a disgrace.  You should be making it easier for working people to vote.  (Applause.)

Passed a law to now make it more easier to kick people off the voter rolls in Georgia, which is why, as we celebrate Juneteenth and our call to action, let’s ensure that everybody who thinks they’re registered to vote actually goes to to make sure you’re registered to vote, make sure you didn’t get kicked off, because the worst thing that can happen — and, you know, disappointment is one of the worst emotions that anybody can experience — is that somebody thinks they’re actually registered, fills out their ballot, they’re ready to vote, and then they go to vote and learn that they’ve been kicked off.

So, let’s think about Juneteenth as a way that reaffirms our commitment to holding on to our freedoms and rights, especially in this environment where there is a full-on intent to attack fundamental freedoms and right — be it the freedom to have access to the ballot; be it the freedom to learn America’s full history; be it the freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body and not have her government tell her what she’s supposed to do — (applause); be it the freedom to love who you love openly and with pride; be it the freedom to be free from hate and bigotry, be free from the fear of gun violence. 

All of these things are at stake in this upcoming election.  And the way we will determine the course of our country is to remind our neighbors and our friends and our family they have the power.

Because I’ll close with this.  Ultimately, this election is coming down to a choice for each of us to determine and decide what kind of country we want to live in.  That’s what this is about: What kind of country do you want to live in? 

You got the former President trying to be president again, who openly admires dictators, who talks about how he’s going to weaponize the Department of Justice against his political enemies — somebody who says he’s proud that he has taken fundamental rights from the women of America.

On the other hand, you have in Joe Biden and our administration an administration that has taken on the issue of affordable prescription medication and finally capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month.  (Applause.)  Black folks are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.  How many of our seniors, for years, had to make a choice about whether they could either afford to fill their prescription or fill their refrigerator? 

What our administration has done — what we have done — I say as a proud HBCU graduate — (applause) — we gave over $15 billion to our HBCUs, recognizing them to be the centers of academic excellence that they are.  (Applause.)

What we have done to close the racial wealth gap in America — the lowest unemployment numbers in recent history for Black Americans. 

What we have done to increase access to capital. 

What we have done with student loan forgiveness.  And, by the way, there were a whole lot of people didn’t want us to do that.  We’ve now forgiven over $160 billion in student loan debt.  (Applause.)  I ask everybody: Testify, when you know that that’s what you’ve experienced, to let everybody know.

What we have done to deal with medical debt.  What is medical debt?  Most often comes about because somebody experiences a medical emergency.  They didn’t ask for that.  And what that means in terms of the debt that they start to pile up around those bills that were unexpected.  We are the ones who said medical debt should not be used against somebody, and we have now eliminated the ability of medical debt to be on your credit score — (applause) — which means medical debt can no longer be a barrier to you being able to qualify for a lease on an apartment or a car loan or a home loan.

These are the kinds of things we have done.  And I will end by saying it’s because the voters in Georgia, the leaders here took it upon yourselves to activate, to organize, to mobilize.  And we’ve seen the power of that, which is why there are some people still trying to work against it.  But we’ve seen the power of that.

And we’re never going to let anybody take our power from us.  We will never let anybody silence us.  That’s what this election is about.  (Applause.) 

And the people of Georgia are going to make the decision.  And the decision will be four more years.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everyone.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                       3:21 P.M. EDT

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